Throughout this unusual global crisis, everyone at Seattle Opera has kept three important values at the forefront of all our decision-making: our drive to produce new performances that are free to audiences while we are not able to be in the theater; our desire to showcase outstanding artists; and the safety of our artists, staff, partners, and audiences. With these principles guiding us, we excited to share Seattle Opera’s Fall Season. See below for our most recent letter from General Director, Christina Schepplemann.
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Our Fall 2020 Season
Sent Thursday, August 27, 2020
Dear Seattle Opera patron,
Throughout this unusual global crisis, everyone at Seattle Opera has kept three important values at the forefront of all our decision-making: our drive to produce new performances that are free to audiences while we are not able to be in the theater; our desire to showcase outstanding artists; and the safety of our artists, staff, partners, and audiences. With these principles guiding us, I am excited to share Seattle Opera’s Fall Season.
Free online recitals offer you the opportunity to hear from amazing singers while also offering people who have never experienced opera before a way to try opera out. Tonight we close out our 15 recital Songs of Summer series with soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams. Her recital will be available on Seattle Opera’s Facebook, YouTube, and website until September 10, 2020 and includes selections from Turandot, Tristan und Isolde, and Les Troyens.
In October, we will continue this series with free online recitals by Frederick Ballentine, Marcy Stonikas, and Jorell Williams. Ballentine previously earned fans for his most recent role as the title character in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird and Don José in Carmen. Soprano Marcy Stonikas began her Seattle Opera career long ago as a Young Artist, and has developed into a dramatic soprano who has since starred in Ariadne auf Naxos, Tosca, Turandot, and Fidelio to wide acclaim. A gifted performer of Seattle Opera’s mainstage and chamber operas, Jorell Williams most recently performed as Dizzy Gillespie in Yardbird as well as last fall’s successful chamber opera The Falling and the Rising. Schedule details are below.
Looking to expand your opera knowledge this fall or wanting to share opera with a young person in your life? Consider one of our classes. Online sessions for adults include Opera 101, plus Opera in the Making, on writing libretti. Youth ages 7–18 can also sign up for courses that meet in late September-December. Participants will learn music, singing, and acting skills via Zoom as they study excerpts from a youth opera for their culminating performance.
In addition to these free performances, our fall season includes programming for our 2020/21 season ticket holders, of which we have more than 6,500 for each opera this year. Subscribers should log in to their online account to learn more about the virtual fall subscriber programming schedule.
Seattle Opera presents the fall season to entertain you, lift your spirits, and keep you connected to the music and artists you know and love. This is not the fall programming we had expected to present when we announced the season in January. This is disappointing, but doing nothing is not an option we explored. Seattle Opera deeply values creating and sharing art that heals and entertains, particularly during times of hardship. So, we’ve decided not to close our doors. Seattle Opera deeply believes that we will get through this if we remain committed to each other and the music.
We are all witnessing the unpredictability of COVID-19. You’ve seen it spread from community to community with tremendous speed. Businesses and organizations have learned to adapt in ever-changing conditions. The same is true for us. In the coming months, we must be nimble and adaptable. We are constantly monitoring local health guidelines, travel restrictions, and the availability of artists in order to plan performances in the near future and the season ahead. We will announce our plans for the next part of our season later this year. Looking ahead to the 2021/22 season, we will begin the new season with La bohème, as previously announced. Other productions will be announced in the months to come.
During this time of national and international crisis, we believe our responsibility is the production of art—in the safest possible environment—to share with all of you. We hope you agree.
Fall Program Schedule
Seattle Opera Mornings on KING FM
Saturdays at 10:00 AM
Broadcasts of previous Seattle Opera performances offered at Classical KING FM 98.1.
Songs of Summer with Mary Elizabeth Williams
Available thru September 10, 2020.
A free, online recital streaming from Facebook, YouTube, and our website.
September 8–October 27, 2020
Offered Tuesdays online via Zoom weekly for eight weeks. Currently sold out but additional sessions are being added. Email us to be added to the wait list.
Opera in the Making: Libretto Writing
September 13–November 1, 2020
Offered Sundays online via Zoom weekly for eight weeks.
Frederick Ballentine in Recital
Friday, October 2, 2020
Enjoy an incredible performance by Frederick Ballentine, the tenor who “deserves all kinds of kudos!” (The Seattle Times) for his performance as Don José in Carmen. His recital will showcase lite fare.
Marcy Stonikis in Recital
Friday, October 9, 2020
Marcy’s relationship with the Seattle Opera stage started in 2010 as a member of the Young Artists Program. She went on to make her mainstage debut in The Magic Flute (’11) and has sung the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos (’15), Tosca (’15) and The Turn of the Screw (2018). She was noted for her “secure vocal beauty” (Bachtrack) as The High Priestess in Aida (’18).
Jorell Williams in Recital
Friday, October 23, 2020
Jorell Williams is “a robust baritone capable of descending to delicate threads of sound.” (Operawire) Recently appearing in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird and The Falling and the Rising, Jorell is fast becoming one of our favorite singers.
Youth Opera Online
Seattle Opera is committed to providing equitable access to the arts. Financial assistance is available. Programs are offered twice a week. Offerings include Artful Explorers for ages 7–9 ($240), Maestros for ages 10–13 ($360), and Advanced for ages 14–18 ($480).
In addition to these free performances, our fall season includes programming for our subscribers, of which we have more than 6,500 for each opera this year. Subscribers should log in to their online account to learn more about the virtual fall subscriber programming.
Faqs July 2020
Our current global health and economic crisis has stressed individuals, families, organizations, and corporations all over the world. Seattle Opera has felt its full force, too. Many of you have expressed concern about the artists, staff, and financial health of the opera. We hope this FAQ addresses your questions and provides insight as to how Seattle Opera is navigating the current conditions facing us all.
Immediate Support Questions
Why do we need your gift right now and how will it be used?
Ticket sales only provide about 30 percent of Seattle Opera’s annual revenue. Other revenue is generated by individual donors, costume and set rentals, as well as private and public funders. We’ve canceled two mainstage productions and the dates of future productions are uncertain, resulting in a significant loss of earned income. Furloughing more than half of the administrative staff has mitigated some of the loss revenue. The remaining staff—working at reduced hours and salaries—are working on producing online opera experiences for you to enjoy while our fundraising team is working diligently to keep donors connected to opera and securing gifts. Your immediate gift supports our online opera experiences as well as our reopening when we are able and allowed to perform again in whatever form it will take.
Do you have a special COVID relief fund?
No. However, Seattle Opera asks for your investment and support during this challenging time. The donations to our Annual Fund support our activities through the pandemic. When you make a gift to Seattle Opera’s Annual Fund, you are supporting the creation of new content through our digital platforms and you are providing resources to all of Seattle Opera’s programs, including public programs, youth and adult learning programs, and Opera at Home offerings.
How will my donation support artists?
We hope you are enjoying our Songs of Summer series featuring some of your favorite Seattle Opera singers like Angel Blue, John Moore, and Jamie Barton. Your gift to Seattle Opera pays artist’s fees for sharing their talents with us. Teaching artists and others contributing to the digital productions are also supported by your contribution. You also invest in the remaining administrative staff that keep you connected to opera through timely and regular communications as well as managing future plans and events.
Will my donation help support bringing back furloughed employees?
Your donation is an investment in everything Seattle Opera is able to create through Opera at Home programming and serves as the foundation for when we can present live events and productions again. There are too many unknown factors to consider at this at time, so we are not in position to have clear plans for public events and concerts; however, we are working through various scenarios. We will bring furloughed employees back as we are able to increase activities again.
Artist & Staff Questions
Do furloughs affect the union staff, chorus, and orchestra?
Yes, unfortunately almost all of our union partners—musicians and chorus members, as well as technical, crafts, and stage professionals—who work on Seattle Opera projects are currently furloughed. With the cancelation of Pagliacci and Cavalleria rusticana, more than 200 professionals lost work.
What’s happening to opera singers who aren’t performing with companies like Seattle Opera right now?
Many singers are producing their own digital performances. Some are paid for performing in special productions like our Songs of Summer recital series. Others are being paid by central-European opera houses as part of the subsidized art and theatre system and as these companies slowly reopen for public performances. However, it is true many singers are out of work while opera companies are closed. We encourage you to follow your favorite opera singers on social media to find ways to support them.
Why can't Seattle Opera perform right now?
At this time, large concert venues and sporting events are prohibited until Seattle/King County enters Phase Four of the state’s reopening plan. Furthermore, we must wait for state and local officials to issue specific guidelines to reopen performing arts facilities for large public events. In the meantime, we are streaming recitals through our Songs of Summer series as well as offering other digital programs. Phase Three distancing protocols allow small public events and Tagney Jones Hall is an ideal space for this. Phase Three also allows small outdoor performances with appropriate social distancing, and we’ve identified various locations where these could happen. In addition, Seattle Center is currently working to open a Digital Stage in McCaw Hall to support streaming capabilities. Testing from the McCaw Hall stage recently took place and the results will be seen soon.
What is happening with Programs and Partnerships initiatives?
We are proud that many of the Programs and Partnerships initiatives continued this spring, although exclusively via video conferencing tools such as Zoom. Teaching artists continued to coach and rehearse the Veterans Chorus (in partnership with Path with Art) and students in our Teen Vocal Studio. Looking towards the late summer and fall, staff are coordinating opera and music experiences, both digital and in person, with community service organizations and residential senior centers.
School closures haven’t stopped us from providing quality arts education to students of all ages. Children, 2—6 years old, can take part in our Opera Time videos found on our website. We’ve also released a series of video lessons, DIY Aria Workshop, for elementary and middle school learners. This summer we’re also hosting virtual Opera Camps and Teen Workshops. These camps give students a chance to stretch their artistic wings and build their creative capacity from the comforts of home.
While the Coronavirus lockdown remains in place, we will continue offering new outreach initiatives, learning opportunities, and artist’s development programs.
Equity & Diversity Questions
What is Seattle Opera’s racial equity plan?
Since 2018, Seattle Opera has been working on an organization-wide Racial Equity and Social Impact Plan, with full support of our Board of Directors. As a company, we care deeply about eradicating institutional racism and engaging with our community in a way that centers social impact within our art form and beyond. We believe in being leaders in equity work among our opera peers nationally, while keeping an open mind to learning and growing in areas where our company needs work.
Meanwhile, Seattle Opera has taken steps in addressing racial and ethnic stereotypes in opera, including these recent actions:
- Our Community Conversations, started in 2017, discuss topics such as “Black Representation in Opera,” “Cultural Appropriation & Madame Butterfly,” and “Feminist Storytelling in the #MeToo Age” and bring new perspectives into opera.
- We presented Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, a full-scale opera chronicling the musicianship and humanity of one of the world’s greatest jazz saxophone players. Librettist Bridgette A. Wimberly is an award-winning African American poet and playwright. The Ensemble Studio Theatre, Arena Stage, and Women’s Project Theater have showcased her works.
- In 2019, we appointed musicologist, writer, and opera-lover Professor Naomi André as Seattle Opera’s inaugural Scholar in Residence. She is the author of Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement, which The New York Times describes as “A necessary exploration of how race has shaped the opera landscape in the United States and South Africa.” André teaches Women’s Studies, Afroamerican/African Studies, and other topics at the University of Michigan.
Will Seattle Opera be programming more operas composed and/or created by BIPOC artists?
Yes. Our Racial Equity and Social Impact plan focuses on increasing the percentage of operas and works by racially and ethnically diverse composers and librettists, in the season planning pipeline to ensure that diverse perspectives are included in our mainstage works. It also includes initiatives to increase board diversity, to develop career development fellowships for People of Color, and to expand education programs in diverse communities.
What percentage of your Black, Indigenous, and People of Color staff were impacted by the recent staff furloughs?
Twenty percent of our remaining administrative staff are People of Color, and an equal percentage of POC administrative staff were furloughed, unfortunately.
How have current opera closures influenced set and costume rentals?
We are recognized across the opera industry for our set and costume collection. Rentals provide some revenue. However, most US companies are shuttered, which affects the industry’s current need of costumes and sets.
Producing opera requires many years of advance planning. How has COVID-19 changed future productions—both mainstage and chamber?
While it’s true that we do tend to plan years in advance for the mainstage, we are also accustomed to working on tighter schedules. We are artists and creative managers—innovative problem solvers. We can work under most time-frames and are prepared to pivot quickly on plans for 2021/22 and beyond once our region moves into the next phases.
Currently, how are you utilizing the Opera Center?
Although our staff is dramatically smaller and almost exclusively working remotely, there are usually 1 to 3 employees in the building at a time, providing administrative support. Also, KING-FM continues to broadcast from the Opera Center and have maintained a small on site staff. In past weeks, members of the Costume Department have produced much-needed protective masks for healthcare workers. Looking ahead, once we are able to open Tagney Jones Hall to small groups of performers and/or audiences, we will begin performing in the Opera Center.
June 4 Update from Christina Scheppelmann
Even as our community is reeling from the events that have shaken our country in the last week and we at Seattle Opera continue to work towards becoming an anti-racist organization, we still must plan for our future as the COVID-19 crisis persists. Like most of the world, Seattle Opera continues to face significant challenges because of the COVID-19 crisis, among them closure of public spaces, travel restrictions, and social distancing practices. Through all of this, we remain focused on our mission of drawing our community together through opera, a unique blend of music and drama that speak to our hearts and minds, especially in difficult times like these. However, we need to balance how we fulfill our mission with the realities of our times.The start of our season
Given the restrictions in place, it is with sadness that we announce the cancellation of Pagliacci
and Cavalleria rusticana
, the first production of the 2020/21 season at McCaw Hall scheduled for August. This is another deep loss for our company, our artists, and for you—our community of opera, music, and arts lovers. We are disappointed to witness the closed doors of cultural institutions across the region, an inevitable consequence of the danger the COVID-19 virus poses for all of us working in the arts and for all of you, our audience members. Though we are not at all alone in this decision, it doesn’t make it any easier.
Even as local public health and government officials constantly monitor the coronavirus, the decision to allow large public events like concerts, sports, and conventions will not happen in time for us to successfully launch the first opera of the season. Rehearsals and pre-production work are scheduled to start in a few short weeks and we cannot complete our work within the guidelines expected to be in place at that time. As you might imagine, our singers, musicians, and technicians need to work in close proximity and we need to protect all of them as well as all of you. More than 220 artists, musicians, and crew are impacted by this cancellation.Your tickets will be transferred
While this is disheartening news, I want you to know that we have scheduled La bohème
in August 2021. We hope to have as much of the cast from this past May’s production join us as possible. If your package includes Pagliacci
and Cavalleria rusticana
your tickets will be automatically transferred to August 2021 for a La bohème
performance and requires no action from you. I hope you can think of this adjustment as an extension of our 2020/21 season. If you would like to explore other options for your tickets, please visit our Performance Cancellation
page. We will also reschedule Pagliacci
and Cavalleria rusticana
in a future season. To confirm your seating assignment for the 20/21 season, you can check your account online
.Plans for the rest of the season
As an early subscriber, we realize your intent is to see the entire 2020/21 season and we plan to present as much of it as possible. Last year’s opening of the Opera Center, next door to McCaw Hall, could not be more important than it is now. With spaces designed for small events—audiences of up to 250 people—the Opera Center is an integral part of our reopening plan for the season and will likely come before McCaw Hall opens. The Center’s Tagney Jones Hall will be used for operas, recitals, talks, masterclasses, and other experiences to fulfill our mission with great creativity. You, our subscribers, will be the very first to enjoy live opera and music again. We ask for your understanding, flexibility and patience during this time as we navigate how we can gather in person again safely. We will be in touch as soon as we know more.Seattle Opera online
For now we will continue with our digital programming. The first Songs of Summer recital with Angel Blue, which premiered on May 28, is now available on our website. On Saturday mornings, past Seattle Opera performances are on the airwaves on KING FM and will continue throughout the summer. Learn more about our digital programming on our website.The financial picture
You may recall my email from earlier in April in which I announced that we received a $2.3 million loan through the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program. That funding, intended to cover 8 weeks of payroll, will come to an end by mid-June. That combined with the delay of the start of the season means the unfortunate significant reduction of the year-round administrative staff. 55% of our administrative staff will be furloughed later this month. These changes, coupled with pay reductions for those staff that remain, are a difficult decision but ones that are critical in order to manage the resources you have invested in us to create opera and work through this challenging period.
Thank you for being part of this company. You—Seattle Opera audiences, supporters, and fans—are the reason we exist; the reason we enrich our community with opera, with music, with singing, with theater, and with great emotions. Your continued support is crucial and deeply appreciated.
May 27 Update from Christina Scheppelmann
Let me start with an assurance and something I would like you to know: turbulent times are certainly not new to me. Today’s pandemic is unprecedented, though it reminds me of two critical points of my career when it was essential to depend on core values, flexibility, keeping calm in the storm and the resilience of the human spirit. The first was in 1994. Early in my career, a fire completely destroyed the Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, where I was serving as a young arts administrator. The attacks of 9-11 were the second. At the time, I was starting work at Washington National Opera. Throughout my life-long pursuit of opera, I’ve experienced the impacts of economic downturns, political strife, and unpredictable challenges. Through them all, the most productive principles were to focus on the music, the creativity, and the resilience of people and audiences. And to remember that possibilities are realized when we work together.
Everyone at Seattle Opera is planning and working towards the day when we can come together to share the stories and voices you love—whether in McCaw Hall or Tagney Jones Hall at the Opera Center.
Because of restrictions placed on large gatherings in places like McCaw Hall, we’ve pivoted to presenting opera via the internet and radio broadcasts. I hope you are enjoying our Saturday morning presentations of past Seattle Opera productions on KING FM. I invite you to log on to watch the newly produced Songs of Summer web recitals; the first one is with Angel Blue this Thursday, May 28, at 7 PM. The weekly programs will be available on our website as well as Facebook and YouTube for two weeks after premiering.
Furthermore, while the McCaw Hall stage remains dark, we’ve continued opera programs as well as maintained relationships with the community we serve.
- We have continued our partnership with Path with Art. The Veteran’s Chorus from our fall production of The Falling and the Rising continues to rehearse (via Zoom) and new veterans have joined the group.
- Students from our Teen Vocal Studio continue to hone their voices through ZOOM meetings as well. They will culminate the year-long program with a June 20th virtual recital before many of the seniors head off to study voice at the University of Washington, the Boston Conservatory, and the Longy School of Music at Bard College, just to name a few. Congratulations!
- Opera Talk programs have transitioned from the Opera Center to online and participation has more than quadrupled the in-person attendance.
On the financial side of the company, the eight weeks of our temporary funding from the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program will end on June 16. Opera has always existed through the generosity of patrons and institutions that invest in it. Seattle Opera exists to create opera for you and we thank you for your support.
As to the future, we remain in close communications with the Mayor’s Office and other public officials to determine when we can safely offer public performances. I’m deeply mindful of your health as well as the safety of the singers, musicians, backstage technicians, and front of house staff. You can trust that we are exploring every possible scenario and circumstance to bring you the voices you love, considering everything from space limitations to travel restrictions to social distancing practices to artist availability to budget concerns. There is plenty to consider, but I am committed to making the difficult decisions needed in order to steward this company’s future so that opera can continue and evolve in Seattle.
Since the beginning of this global crisis and tragedy, my foremost goal—and the desire of everyone at Seattle Opera—has been to continue sharing the music and stories we’re all passionate to hear. Nevertheless, we can’t do it alone. We need you. We need your enthusiasm, investment, and participation. Opera will survive, telling stories through singing and playing instruments will continue. Maybe not in all the ways we are accustomed, but opera and the art at large will return and thrive.
With gratitude and hope,
May 21 Update for La bohème TicketHolders
Dear La bohème ticketholders,
Now that the time when La bohème performances would have taken place has passed, we will be working to finalize La bohème ticket-holder accounts. At this time, if you did not already contact Audience Services regarding how you would like the value of your tickets to be handled, it will be moved on to your account as a credit that can be used at a later date for future ticket purchases. The credit will expire December 31, 2021 (an extension from an earlier posted date). This value can be used for any Seattle Opera performance or event we have on sale at McCaw Hall or the Opera Center or donated to Seattle Opera. We will follow up with you via email in the coming months with instructions on how to use your credit. This may not be applied toward previous purchases or to payment plans already in progress. This credit may be used for performances in 2021 or 2022 that are available for sale prior to December 31, 2021.
We are happy to discuss other options with you at your convenience. Please call us at 206.389.7676 Monday–Friday, 10 AM–6 PM (hours subject to change) or let us know a good time to contact you by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support of Seattle Opera. We are eager to see you again and share the joy of music and opera with all of you as soon as possible.
Audience Services Department
May 1 Update from Christina Scheppelmann
Heartbreak, generosity, tragedy, and wonderful acts of kindness—themes found in our most riveting and beloved operas—are mirroring these unimaginable times. What we’re dealing with is truly operatic, an as yet unfinished opus.
As this pandemic unfolds, we’re currently in Act 2. The entire world is navigating a global pandemic and economic shutdown. We have been doing everything we can to preserve Seattle Opera and navigate safely and prudently through this situation over the next months: salary cuts, furloughs, reduced business operations, and grant applications for aid. As this act ends we have managed to work some glimmers of hope into the script.
The company is connecting with the community in various and new ways—online recitals with artists our audience knows and enjoys, radio broadcasts, video clips, and podcasts. Every member of the company plays a part as we move anxiously forward to get to the end of this script, and the happy end that we always wish for.
In this State of the Company letter, I can only report our current condition and assure you that I am doing what’s best to sustain Seattle Opera. It’s also clear to me that you’re doing everything you can, too. Your ongoing encouragement and generosity lifts our spirits, drives our creativity and solidifies our determination to keep going strong. Thank you!
I’m extremely grateful that more than 5,000 La bohème tickets have been donated to the company. This needed revenue is a lifeline, supporting our online programming and our staff. Also aiding us, as always, are donations from individuals and organizations. We received a generous $250,000 emergency grant from the Hearst Foundation to fund general operations. We were among a small group of cultural institutions and the University of Washington to receive funding in Seattle. This grant, coupled with special donations from those of you who can contribute during this difficult time, is keeping opera in our lives. I’m deeply grateful for all this emergency support.
Last week, as you may have read in the news, we received notification that Seattle Opera is the recipient of a $2.3 million Small Business Administration Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan. The funding will be used to cover some of the La bohème production payroll—salaries for approximately 180 individuals, such as orchestra musicians, chorus singers, and backstage crew members. Additionally, furloughed administrative staff are being rehired and salaries restored for the eight weeks covered by the PPP. Meanwhile all department directors and I will continue receiving reduced salaries as part of our overall efforts to control and reduce expenses in order to keep the company going.
The infusion of funds will help temporarily retain our highly skilled workforce—both artistic and administrative—as we develop strategies for the future. It’s important for me to emphasize that this is temporary funding which lasts eight weeks. I am not expecting this funding to be renewed and therefore, we can expect furloughs and pay reductions again after eight weeks. However, this funding will provide immediate salary funding and will help a lot.
Sadly, initiatives announced in previous State of the Company letters are currently on hold. Among them are the ALANNA Fellowship Program, a partnership with Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Symphony; the school opera tour of Earth to Kenzie; and the Opera America Conference planned for May in Seattle.
Members of your Seattle Opera community are also pitching in to make a difference in Seattle. Since March 31, our talented and industrious costume staff has produced more than 5,000 protective facemasks for health care professionals at Providence St. Joseph Health. In addition, veteran Seattle Opera chorus member Stephen Wall is inspiring his Ballard neighbors from his front lawn by singing opera favorites.
I’m sure you’re interested in my thoughts about the start of the season in August. Seattle Opera is like other arts organizations—waiting to learn about new public gatherings policies and estimated timeframes from state and local officials. No one can predict how this crisis will end, but unlike so many opera plots, we’re doing everything we can to have an exciting future, not a tragic finale. In preparation for when social distancing and stay at home policies are relaxed, we’re thinking about ways to present events and performances in the Opera Center’s smaller Tagney Jones Hall and rehearsal studios. In addition, we are considering numerous production scenarios for McCaw Hall. Decisions about our next production will be made in early summer.
In the meantime, I invite you to take part in our online performances, interviews, video clips, and other digital offerings at Opera at Home. Log on to hear Sunday Songs with Sarah and Jay, a three part recital series featuring mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen and pianist Jay Rozendaal. You can also tune to Classical KING FM 98.1 to hear previous McCaw Hall performances of Tosca, The Magic Flute, Madame Butterfly, and many others. Throughout the spring and summer broadcasts will be available on the radio and at king.org every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. These broadcasts are also made possible through a special agreement with AGMA (American Guild of Musical Artists) and Seattle Symphony and Opera Player’s Organization. Many thanks go to all the artists who make Seattle Opera what it is, especially those who allow us to share their talents on the airwaves during these unprecedented times.
In the not too distant future, we will measure this moment in history at two points—the time before the COVID-19 and time after. You should know that every member of the company is devoted to crossing these points in ways that will support Seattle Opera’s future. I’m looking forward to the day when we can gather as a community to share the music and drama we love.
With gratitude and hope,
March 25 Update from Christina Scheppelmann
We are all living through an extremely challenging period and you can probably imagine that Seattle Opera as much as the entire cultural sector overall is facing challenges and difficult decisions. Our work and mission is to bring people together to enjoy and share the beauty and emotions of the human voice, music, and opera. Nevertheless the health and well-being of our patrons, artists, staff, volunteers, and the larger community remain our most important priority, along with compliance with directives from public health officials and government leaders.
Therefore, it is with deep regret and sadness that I write to you to announce that we will cancel all performances of our final production of the season at McCaw Hall—Puccini’s La bohème. We have planned for this production for more than two years and are in dismay over this necessary decision. This is a devastating loss for our company, artists, and community of opera lovers. We also know that we are not alone in making difficult decisions like this as cancelations have become the news of the day and many of my colleagues are faced with having to make similar decisions. It does not make it easier for anybody.
After careful consideration and monitoring of current developments, the continued spread of COVID-19 as well as recommended social distancing mean there is no safe way for the more than 100 people involved in this production to come together to prepare in the coming weeks for a May 2 opening. Further, it is not clear when the large group gathering bans will be lifted, which also impacts our ability to prepare and perform. In addition to activities at McCaw Hall, all public programs at the Opera Center have been canceled for the next two months through May 31. This includes lectures, tours, workshops, and public programs. In the meantime, we are publishing video and audio content regularly for you to enjoy digitally at seattleopera.org/athome.
We look forward with anticipation and hope to our 2020/21 season. We are eager to see you again and to continue bringing music and opera to you and the community as soon as possible. We know opera and music can bring hope and provide solace during challenging times. It’s why we are seeing such beautiful outpourings of music coming from around the world in the past week. From Italians singing Verdi’s “Va pensiero” from their balconies to musicians sharing intimate solo pieces from their homes, music is providing some peace through these weeks. We will get through this difficult period and when we emerge on the other side of this, the desire for opera, music, and art to provide healing will never be stronger. The absence of it will have reminded us how essential music and the arts are to us. Seattle Opera will need your financial support to continue to be there for you.
You are likely aware that Seattle Opera is a fiscally lean organization and you know the dramatic impact that this cancelation will have on Seattle Opera’s health. This is a devastating loss of income for your opera company. This cancelation means 100s of artists and crew will lose employment this spring. To save resources, we are also putting some administrative staff on furlough and the remaining staff will be subject to significant salary reductions including myself.
If you have tickets to La bohème, we will be sending you further information about ticket options within the next day or two. One way that you can help Seattle Opera right now is to donate the value of your tickets back to the company. Please, would you consider this as your first choice to help our non-profit arts institution? Choosing to donate your ticket value is something you can do that will help sustain Seattle Opera through this difficult time. It will allow us to continue planning in the coming months to create the music and drama that you love and will contribute to keeping the arts alive and vibrant in Seattle.
You—Seattle Opera audiences, supporters, and fans—are the reason we exist; the reason we can continue to enrich our community with opera. Your continued support is so much appreciated and is crucial right now.
March 20 Update
Your health is our top priority. Therefore, to continue to comply with local public health officials' recommendations around social distancing, Seattle Opera is cancelling our public events at the Opera Center scheduled through April 30, 2020. We believe this is best for our patrons, artists, staff members, volunteers, and community partners.
We are also carefully studying the feasibility of our La bohème performances in May, and we expect to let the community know our plans soon.
At this time, the following events are cancelled:
- March 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, 31, and April 4: Opera Time at the Opera Center
- March 15: Screening of Amadeus at SIFF
- March 21: Sing Along: Puccini
- March 24: Opera Talk with Jonathan Dean; will be available as streaming video
- March 29: Donor Recital with Sarah Larsen
- April 9: Teen Vocal Studio Masterclass with Ginger Costa-Jackson
- April 10: Artist Recital with Vanessa Vasquez
- April 11: Opera Time at the Opera Center
- April 13-17: Spring Break Camps
- April 14: La bohème Costume Preview for Subscribers
- April 16: BRAVO! Queens of the Night event (at Queer/Bar)
- April 17: Leontyne Price Community Stage Dedication
- April 21: Opera Talk with Jonathan Dean; will be available as streaming video
- Weekly Teen Vocal Studio programming and recital on April 18
We hope to reschedule some of these events later in 2020 if possible. However, in lieu of hosting public activities, Seattle Opera is planning to provide additional video and audio programming for our community during this period. Our next video broadcast event is an Opera Talk hosted by Jonathan Dean, Seattle Opera dramaturg, on Tuesday, March 24 at 7 PM. Please tune into Facebook, YouTube, or our website to watch the Opera Talk.
We will continue to post regular updates on our website and to communicate via email with patrons who have RSVP’d for events and purchased tickets. Also, Audience Services is open Monday through Friday 10 AM to 6 PM to answer your questions. Please call 206.389.7676 or email email@example.com.
As we navigate the spread of the coronavirus disease in the greater Seattle area, Seattle Opera is committed to supporting the safety of Seattleites with care and compassion.
Thank you for your continuing support as we navigate this difficult time. If you require assitance with your tickets or credit on account please call Audience Services 206.389.7676 Tuesday–Friday, 10 AM–2 PM (hours subject to change) or let us know a good time to contact you by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.